• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Kelly Thomas fatal beating trial: Jurors shown 34 minutes of surveillance video

Jurors were shown 34 minutes of surveillance video of a fatal confrontation between officers and homeless man Tuesday.
December 3, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Jurors in the trial of two former Fullerton police officers accused of fatally beating a transient were shown 34 minutes of surveillance video of the deadly confrontation between the officers and the homeless man, Kelly Thomas. Both sides are trying to use that video to prove their cases.

Cathy Thomas, mother of Kelly Thomas, sobbed as prosecutors played video taken from a surveillance camera on the night her 37-year-old son had a run-in with Fullerton officers on July 5, 2011, near the bus depot in Fullerton. Prosecutors call the 34 minutes of video and audio crucial.

Former officer Manuel Ramos is charged with second-degree murder. Former corporal Jay Cicinelli is facing charges of involuntary manslaughter and use of excessive force.

In the video, for 15 minutes Ramos-repeatedly asks the homeless, schizophrenic man to identify himself. Ramos was investigating a complaint of someone trying to break into cars at the depot. Ramos had had several encounters with Thomas dating as far back as 2009 that were never violent.

On the night of July 5, 2011, after a search of Thomas's backpack turned up someone else's mail, Ramos put on latex gloves. The prosecution says that set in motion an unprovoked beating.

Officer Joseph Wolfe swung his baton at Thomas as he tried to run away. Minutes later officer Cicinelli arrives and Tasers Thomas.

Six officers eventually responded.

The defense says Cicinelli was trying to stop an uncontrollable Thomas from grabbing his weapon. Cicinelli is heard saying he ran out of options and started "smashing his face to hell" with his Taser.

"You can hear him gurgling, you can hear the blood going down his throat, he's gurgling, he's trying to get out, 'Dad, dad, help me,'" said Cathy Thomas. "It's very painful."

Thomas was taken off life support five days later and died.

The defense says that the officers' actions did not kill Thomas. Cicinelli's attorney says he plans to call an expert witness who will testify that Thomas died of a heart attack, claiming that he had an enlarged heart caused by years of methamphetamine use.

Thomas's father says his son was not a drug user.


Load Comments